Blog From The Experts

Halloween Mindfulness

It’s the spookiest time of the year! Halloween is a fun time for kids and adults. Kids are not the only ones to celebrate either. Plenty of adults still dress up, have parties, and pass out candy.

 

Basic Halloween safety for kids trick-or-treating is fairly well known. However, adult safety and mindfulness for Halloween is sometimes overlooked. A huge part of the holiday is obviously dressing up in costumes, sometimes scary. One of the major things that we have to be aware of about ourselves is phobias.

With all the costumes, it is a good chance you could run into someone dressed as something you are truly fearful of. A common phobia affected by Halloween is coulrophobia or the fear of clowns. While it is a person’s right to dress up as whatever they please, you should know what you need to do if you encounter someone who might trigger these phobias.

So what should you do if you have an encounter? Your first reaction may be feeling like panic. Just do your best to reassure yourself that you are in fact okay and safe. Keep someone around you know you trust, who you can turn to if you are starting to feel unsafe.

To plan for the situation of you being in a full blown panic attack, think of a place where you could escape to that would make you feel safe. If you’re not at home it could be a place like your car, a bathroom, or any room where there is no occupants. Bring your trusted person along if you prefer it.

Along with that, make sure to stay aware if your surrounding for an overall fun and safe Halloween!

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Enjoying Your Life

We have a tendency to skip over the things that make us happy when we get caught in our busy schedules. Sometimes, one of the most challenging things we can do is actually sit down and reflect on all of the good things in our life, rather than the negative.

 

Life is bound to get hectic and overwhelming at times. During these times, it is so easy to be caught up chasing something we don’t have, because we think it will fulfill us.  This can create a harmful cycle. If we are constantly chasing the newest thing to make ourselves happy, when will it end? If you find yourself in this cycle, it is time to have a thorough reevaluation of the things that are important to you.

Think about the things you value the most. It could be friends, family, shopping, yoga, or video games. The goal is to get down to the core of the relationships and hobbies that are the most crucial to your happiness, anything else is “extra.” Once you have identified the most meaningful things to you, try to incorporate them into your life more. If it is not physically or financially possible, try to find something that is similar, or a good “dupe” for it.

Now that you know what makes you happy, be grateful for these things. On our worst days it can feel like we have nothing to live for. These are the exact times that we should focus on ourselves and the things we love, and show gratitude for them. You never know when something can be taken away, so we should enjoy the privilege of them while they are here.

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Defining Wants from Needs

There are few things that are truly necessities to us. However, there are a lot of things that feel like necessities. How do we define what we really need? How can we avoid overindulging and wasting money?

 

Many people are accustomed to a certain type of lifestyle. We live in a very privileged country where we have the freedom to buy, wear, and own almost anything we could want. Aside from the obvious necessities (food, water, shelter) what do we really need? While it varies for everyone depending on if they have kids, how they like to live, and how much income they have, we still all have similar needs.

An important thing everyone should have access to are things like toiletries or bathing products, medications (prescribed or over the counter), and clothing. The list usually would go on and on, but where do we draw the line? Are things like perfume, a pair of shoes in every color, and beauty products actually needed? Of course not. However, there is nothing wrong with having wants.

The only problem is when you put those wants above your needs and spend more than you have. It seems obvious, but it is really easy to simply put something on a card and say “oh I’ll be able to pay for it next week” but what happens when next weeks comes around, and you do that same thing for another want. Then, you are forced to cut into your “need” funds.

 

The bottom line is that setting up a budget for yourself is the best option. Set aside money for what you have to pay for, then you can start to address your wants. Being responsible now, and taking care of the things you have to pay for first is always a good idea, because there is always going to be something you’re just dying to have. Even if you think that you couldn’t possibly want something more than you want that one thing, there is always something else.

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How do Pets Help with Mental Health?

Any pet owner can share stories of how their beloved animal has helped them through a rough spot in their lives. So, how can they help someone with a mental illness?

 

The benefits go far past the typical “stress reliever” reason. While it is true that looking at your cute furry friend can relieve stress, there are many other components to the aid in your health as well.

 

Research shows that there are many benefits of someone suffering from a mental illness being responsible for a pet. It does not have to be a traditional pet like a dog or a cat either. The routine of being in charge of another life can really give a sense of purpose for people, they may have not had before.

 

Unfortunately, sometimes people do not have the best support system around them, especially for those with mental health issues. Clinicians say that a lot of times when clients are mentioning their supporters, pets often come up. One clinician noted they have had people tell them their pet stopped them from going through with suicidal thoughts, because they know their furry friend depended on them.

 

If you have a pet that you depend on for support, remember that they depend on you too. Taking excellent care of your pets should be something you take pride in. Sometimes, there can be a stigma of going “overboard” taking care of your pets. Give them what you can, and what they deserve. Otherwise, you might not have your furry friend around for as long as you could. The better you treat them, the better they will treat you in return. All their needs fall on your shoulders, so if you have a pet (or are considering having one) make sure you can be responsible enough to give them top notch care.

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Taking a Mental Health Day

 

It is easy to get caught up working and falling into a routine, so sometimes we forget about our own well-being. Taking time off work can seem counterproductive when you are already stressed about work, money, and providing for yourself or your family. You could also be worried about what your boss will think about using a sick day or time off for a mental health day.

If we are not physically sick, we tend to feel guilt when we take time off. Luckily, the stigma for mental health is starting to be broken, and these types of days are more widely accepted. In a perfect world, you SHOULD be able to simply tell your boss, “I need a mental health day” and they will understand. However, this is not always realistic. If you feel that your boss will not understand, just tell them you are taking the day off for “personal reasons.”

Be mindful when using mental health days. The rule of thumb is more or less 3 per year. They are meant to be used when absolutely necessary, not just when you want an excuse not to go to work. Also, if you have a big project going on at work that is time sensitive, try not to leave your boss and coworkers in the dust. As soon as it is over, you can take some time for yourself.

 

When to Take Mental Health Days:

  • Your mind is starting to affect your work
  • You are lashing out at the people around you
  • Daily strain is starting to show in all of your other activities

 

When NOT to Take Mental Health Days:

  • You just do not feel like going to work
  • You are in the middle of a big project
  • If you have been taking many over the past few months (there may be a bigger issue than just feeling burnt out from work)

 

You should not have to feel guilty for wanting time to recover from the mundane tasks of everyday life. We have all been pushed to our limits, and grateful when relief came. Do not forget to think of yourself every now and then, because the better shape you are in, the better you can take care of everyone else around you.

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The Power of Forgiveness

Noha Everetts MA.Ed, LPCC was kind enough to make this handout for the blog all about forgiveness.

 

 

Forgiveness

 

  • What is forgiveness?: “It involves releasing regret, sadness, hurt, fear, blame, guilt, and resentment. It starts by a willingness to let go of the past, refusing to be helpless or a victim and in turn claiming your power.” – Louise Hay
  • Forgiveness can help us with survival in the long run.
  • Research has shown that not forgiving can lead to stress, depression, substance abuse, and cardiovascular health issues.
  • Forgiveness is not something we do for others. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on.
  • Food for thought: Holding on to anger and resentments is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Resentment is past focused leaving us stuck in the past.
  • Forgiveness paves the path to healing, helps us let go of pain and is an empowering choice… we choose forgiveness. It can relieve us of a burden.
  • Forgiveness is a present centered act allowing us to be in the present and less rooted in the painful path.
  • Forgiveness takes time and is a process. We must be careful not to ask for or forgive prematurely as it may be incomplete, without relief and cause people to circle back to past. Thus, it is important to recognize the process cannot be forced.
  • Barriers to forgiveness:
    • Attachment to the identity of being wronged or a victim.
    • Not working to take responsibility for anything we may have done to contribute to the situation.
    • Feeling the right to be angry and holding on to it for too long.
    • Not believing the other is truly sorry.
    • Intense emotions of anger, resentment and grief to give us a feeling of power or righteousness.
    • Thinking you are doing it for the other person.
    • Believing if you forgive, then it is forgotten (this is not supported by research) and that it cannot be brought up again.
  • Forgiveness does not mean that you accept what they did as a being okay.
  • The process of forgiveness starts with self. We need to allow ourselves to be human without the shame of holding on to guilt.
  • Guilt is generally only useful for 10 minutes. It can help us to learn to respond in different ways. However, hanging onto guilt can turn into shame and become toxic. Forgiving the self can free one up from guilt.
  • The process of forgiveness involves acceptance. Accepting the truth of the act, its painful impact or the “injustice”. However, acceptance does not mean you condone the action. It involves letting any denial or other defenses go.
  • Ask self if there are any gains to hanging on or is it hurting me to hang on.
  • Ways to forgive include:
    • Imagining what it would be like to forgive.
    • Frame it as your informed and empowered choice.
    • Remind yourself that forgiveness is for your benefit, for your own happiness, and that you deserve this freedom.

 

About Noha Everetts MA.Ed, LPCC

 

Noha Everetts has a Masters Degree in Education and Human Development with a focus in Community Counseling from George Washington University. She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), an independent license issued for counseling by the state of Ohio. She has completed further training at the Cognitive Therapy Institute. She specializes in working with adolescents and adults in mental health counseling including issues of grief and loss, anxiety and mood disorders, marital and family issues, stress management, and women’s issues. Additionally, she works with couples desiring to improve their communication, adults who need guidance balancing the many roles they have, and those who need more effective parenting strategies for their adolescents. She also uses her skills for mediation services, including shared parenting agreements.

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